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African Rainbow Minerals partners with Wits to invest in talent and research

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Thando Mkatshana, Chief Executive ARM Platinum. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

African Rainbow Minerals partners with Wits to invest in talent and research

Mining company African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) has partnered with Wits University in South Africa to boost technology development in the mining sector and to strengthen the pipeline of postgraduate students and leading-edge research.

Announcing their recently signed Memorandum of Agreement in November 2022, Head of the School of Mining Engineering, Professor Cuthbert Musingwini highlighted the multidisciplinary nature of the collaboration. While the School of Mining Engineering will be the main contact point for managing the agreement, ARM will be also be working with the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, the School of Accountancy, the School of Geosciences, and the Wits Mining Institute to advance teaching and research.

“This partnership is a reflection of how Wits and ARM appreciate the integration of different disciplines in the mining industry,” said Professor Musingwini. “Just as mining companies must embrace a wide range of expertise and try to avoid working in silos, so too must we ensure that our disciplines ‘speak’ to each other – this is essential in preparing our students for the industries they are entering.”

The agreement opens the door for ARM to provide financial and other support to Wits University, in various forms. ARM will offer bursaries and vacation work experience for selected students and will consider the best performing students for its Graduate Development Programme, and for permanent employment.

“ARM has partnered with institutions of higher learning across South Africa, offering exciting career opportunities and contributing to research and advancement for the mining industry. The partnership with Wits provides a great platform to invest in talent across the various disciplines that contribute to the mining sector,” said Thando Mkatshana, Chief Executive ARM Platinum.

A key aspect of the partnership is the sponsorship of postgraduate research which may be relevant to ARM and could be of importance to the mining industry.

“The value of this support is not just in terms of student livelihood and experience, or the pioneering research that will be fostered,” said Professor Musingwini. “All this investment feeds back into the teaching curriculum, as it is the lecturing team that supervises the research and gains insights from it – keeping our educational content at the cutting edge.”

According to the School’s Senior Lecturer Clinton Birch, who is leading the engagement with ARM, students will benefit from Wits’ supervision and also from a mentor within ARM who will provide guidance to ensure that the research is relevant to industry. A range of research topics have already been decided by the Wits-ARM steering committee with the relevant students, supervisors and mentors chosen.

“We will be tackling topics that are extremely relevant to today’s mining sector, including blending and grade control strategies, the deposition of tailings underground, and enhancing mine-community relationships,” said Birch. “Other topics relate to the efficiency of trackless mobile equipment, blasting optimisation, the use of backfill, and zero harm strategies.”

Professor Musingwini highlighted that 2022 marked Wits centenary year as a leading educational institution on the continent that seeks to change the world, for good.

“Wits has shown how university education is uniquely transformational in the way it addresses inequality and enhances social mobility,” he said. “The partnership with ARM gives more people access to quality education, while attracting top teaching and research talent. It goes further than that – it also contributes to employment and drives sustainable development.”

All these goals and values, he said, are held dear and shared by both Wits University and ARM.

“Our vision is that ARM’s partnership with Wits University will advance the shared ambition for both organisations to lead change in South Africa, Africa and the world, for good,” concluded Professor Musingwini.

African Rainbow Minerals partners with Wits to invest in talent and research

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African Rainbow Minerals partners with Wits to invest in talent and research

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management